Jasmin's and his English critics.

Translation of his Poems-- The Athenoeum-- Miss Costello's Visit to Jasmin-- Her Description of the Poet-- His Recitations-- Her renewed Visit-- A Pension from the King-- Proposed Journey to England-- The Westminster Review-- Angus B. Reach's Interview with Jasmin-- His Description of the Poet-- His Charitable Collections for the Poor-- Was he Quixotic?-- His Vivid Conversation-- His Array of Gifts-- The Dialect in which he Composes

Jasmin's visit to Paris in 1842 made his works more extensively known, both at home and abroad. His name was frequently mentioned in the Parisian journals, and Frenchmen north of the Loire began to pride themselves on their Gascon poet. His Blind Girl had been translated into English, Spanish, and Italian. The principal English literary journal, the Athenaeum, called attention to his works a few months after his appearance in Paris.1 The editor introduced the subject in the following words:

"On the banks of the Garonne, in the picturesque and ancient town of Agen, there exists at this moment a man of genius of the first order--a rustic Béranger, a Victor Hugo, a Lamartine-- a poet full of fire, originality, and feeling--an actor superior to any now in France, excepting Rachel, whom he resembles both in his powers of declamation and his fortunes. He is not unknown--he is no mute inglorious Milton; for the first poets, statesmen, and men of letters in France have been to visit him. His parlour chimney-piece, behind his barber's shop, is covered with offerings to his genius from royalty and rank. His smiling, dark-eyed wife, exhibits to the curious the tokens of her husband's acknowledged merit; and gold and jewels shine in the eyes of the astonished stranger, who, having heard his name, is led to stroll carelessly into the shop, attracted by a gorgeous blue cloth hung outside, on which he may have read the words, Jasmin, Coiffeur."

After mentioning the golden laurels, and the gifts awarded to him by those who acknowledged his genius, the editor proceeds to mention his poems in the Gascon dialect--his Souvenirs his Blind Girl and his Franconnette--and then refers to his personal appearance. "Jasmin is handsome in person, with eyes full of intelligence, of good features, a mobility of expression absolutely electrifying, a manly figure and an agreeable address; but his voice is harmony itself, and its changes have an effect seldom experienced on or off the stage. The melody attributed to Mrs. Jordan seems to approach it nearest. Had he been an actor instead of a poet, he would have 'won all hearts his way'.... On the whole, considering the spirit, taste, pathos, and power of this poet, who writes in a patois hitherto confined to the lower class of people in a remote district-- considering the effect that his verses have made among educated persons, both French and foreign, it is impossible not to look upon him as one of the remarkable characters of his age, and to award him, as the city of Clemence Isaure has done, the Golden Laurel, as the first of the revived Troubadours, destined perhaps to rescue his country from the reproach of having buried her poetry in the graves of Alain Chartier and Charles of Orleans, four centuries ago."

It is probable that this article in the Athenaeum was written by Miss Louisa Stuart Costello, who had had an interview with the poet, in his house at Agen, some years before. While making her tour through Auvergne and Languedoc in 1840,2 she states that she picked up three charming ballads, and was not aware that they had ever been printed. She wrote them down merely by ear, and afterwards translated Me cal Mouri into English (see page 57). The ballad was very popular, and was set to music. She did not then know the name of the composer, but when she ascertained that the poet was "one Jasmin of Agen," she resolved to go out of her way and call upon him, when on her journey to the Pyrenees about two years later.3 She had already heard much about him before she arrived, as he was regarded in Gascony as "the greatest poet in modern times." She had no difficulty in finding his shop at the entrance to the Promenade du Gravier, with the lines in large gold letters, "Jasmin, Coiffeur"

Miss Costello entered, and was welcomed by a smiling dark-eyed woman, who informed her that her husband was busy at that moment dressing a customer's hair, but begged that she would walk into his parlour at the back of the shop. Madame Jasmin took advantage of her husband's absence to exhibit the memorials which he had received for his gratuitous services on behalf of the public. There was the golden laurel from the city of Toulouse; the golden cup from the citizens of Auch, the gold watch with chain and seals from "Le Roi" Louis Philippe, the ring presented by the Duke of Orleans, the pearl pin

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